Back for the future

Today, Northampton’s regeneration plans have received a much-needed boost with the news that Phipps, Northampton Brewery Company, has signed an agreement to run a Grade II listed former coaching inn. The Old Black Lion is currently undergoing a £3.5million renovation programme which, when finished, will become the centrepiece of the ‘Marefair Heritage Gateway’ close to Northampton station. 


The works are part of the Churches Conservation Trust’s (CCT) ambitious project to restore the pub to its former glory and create an important community asset. When open, the Old Black Lion will offer a traditional welcome to visitors and locals alike. The refurbished bars, new restaurant and sunny courtyard seating will become a popular stopping off point at this busy, historic entrance to Northampton town centre. The new facilities will also support more events in the neighbouring St Peter’s church which is in the care of the CCT and has been kept open by local volunteers for nearly thirty years. 

The Phipps brand has been a central part of the site’s rich past as the pub was part of its estate a hundred years ago.  Real ale fans will also be excited to hear that the brewery will install equipment at the pub to brew one-off, or seasonal beers to accompany its popular range of ales that are produced nearby at the Albion Brewery on Bridge Street. 

The project has cost £3.5m. The Churches Conservation Trust, which is the national charity that cares for churches at risk, was awarded a grant of £1,841,800 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2016. In November 2022, this was augmented by £794,405, to reflect rising costs.  Funding has also been granted by HM Treasury’s Towns Fund, West Northamptonshire Council, the Architectural Heritage Fund and West Northamptonshire Development Corporation. The project has been supported by the Northampton Forward Board and forms part of the Marefair ‘Heritage Gateway’. 

Alaric Neville, MD of Phipps NBC said: "Phipps NBC has been involved with the Old Black Lion revival project for over 5 years now, so finally seeing the restored building rising from the rubble of a once derelict pub is a tonic for all of us at the brewery. During site visits it has been fascinating to see patches of the iconic Phipps' claret paint reappear on doors, window frames and walls, evidence of the decades when in our company owned and ran The Old Black Lion. Phipps' own story is one of a golden era of greatness followed by a decline, closure then a revival of both the beers, brand and brewery in the 21st century. We will be working hard to make The Old Black Lion follow the same course."

Tom Stainer is Chief Executive of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale which fights for traditional British pubs. He said: "Too often community pubs are the victims of redevelopment, so we're delighted to see the historic Old Black Lion play such an integral part in the regeneration of this area. The recognition that pubs are a vital part of community renewal is extremely welcome and we'd hope other development projects across the country take note of the forward thinking approach taken by all involved in the Old Black Lion Partnership." 

Cllr Dan Lister, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth, said: “It is fantastic news that Phipps Brewery, who based here at the heart of Northampton Town Centre, will be providing their services at the historic Old Black Lion Pub. We look forward to seeing this transformed space open for the local community where they can enjoy local produce for our town.”  

Greg Pickup, CEO of the Churches Conservation Trust, said: “This is a landmark day for everyone involved in the Old Black Lion project. We are delighted to be working with Phipps NBC to help lead a renewal of this historic site and the community it serves. In time, our work to care for some of England’s most  churches will be based here and, with Phipps NBCs’ support, we will be able to do more to help support our fabulous volunteers who care for the Grade I Listed St Peter’s Church next door”.

Find out more about St Peter's Church here